Good news – Google is getting tough and making changes to its algorithm to aggressively target spam from websites that have been hacked.
An announcement by Google earlier this week said it expects about 5% of search queries will be impacted and that users may notice fewer results appearing in Google for certain search queries as a result of Google thinning out spam.
Sites being hacked by spammers is a major problem and the second biggest reason for Google to take manual actions against websites. If you’re not clear about what hacked spam is, it’s when legitimate websites get hacked and then compromised by spammers. Often malware is injected into the site code or content and links get added to drive traffic to spam websites that promote porn, counterfeit goods, illegal drugs or other nastiness.
Why should you care?
Unless you’re a spammer this assertive action by Google is great news. However, for owners of innocent websites that have been compromised this will come at a big cost if they suddenly find themselves shut out of Google search results.
If you have a website, then it’s absolutely essential you take steps to ensure your website isn’t left vulnerable to hackers. Hackers aggressively hunt out sites they can exploit and there’s no shortage of websites that leave themselves wide open to attack.
One of the measures we use to protect this WordPress website is by utilising the Wordfence Security Plugin. This comes in both free and premium versions and is used by millions of websites to protect themselves from attack (24% of all websites globally are WordPress). We are astounded at the number of attacks we see on our site that WordFence stops – literally hundreds of attempts each week. And that’s just our site. As I write this post the Wordfence website shows that currently 8,935 attacks per minute are being made on WordPress sites protected by WordFence. And no – that’s not an affiliate link.
Another key action website owners should take to protect themselves is set up a free Google Search Console account which, amongst other things, will allow you to be notified by Google if they’ve detected malware on your website or taken a manual action. Not welcome news, but at least you then know and can take positive action to clean up the mess.
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Mark is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire which he founded back in 2002. Prior to establishing SureFire he worked for KPMG Consulting. Today Mark heads up SEO, embracing the challenges that can come with complex website implementations. Outside of work, his interests beyond his family are running, snowsports, diving and fishing (badly).